Do you have a logo? Is there something special at the top of your letterhead, your business card or your advertising that somehow defines who you are and what your office is all about?

I see the AOA logo (or the Startling Blue Pizza Venetian Blind, as I like to call it) on many optometrists letterheads. This is because: (a) its simple, tasteful, and a classy blue color; and (b) the O.D. doesnt have any other ideas.

Some doctors believe that the AOA logo implies extreme professionalism. I agree. Unfortunately, patients who have no clue what it means can easily think that the letter is from a new airline or perhaps a new tennis club.

I find it instructive to check the optometrists and other medical specialists in the yellow pages. For example ...

Cosmetic surgeons have it easy. A picture of a perfectly proportioned, smiling 22-year-old woman certainly would catch the eye of any graying 53-year-old mother of six. It also catches the eye of any graying 53-year-old optometric columnist whos researching logos.

Allergy and lung specialists all seem to gravitate toward a graphic of the ugliest, most apparently inflamed set of lungs available. It doesnt make ME want to go there. I would prefer a doctor who shows me a very clean, healthy set of lungs. Better yet, a picture of a perfectly proportioned, smiling 22-year-old woman.

Chiropractors always show a spine, or what most prospective patients would interpret as a long, segmented hellgrammite. If you have ever reached under a rock and had one of these nasty creatures snag your finger with his impressive, powerful pinchers, you would, at all costs, avoid going to that doctors office. Of course, if the doctor slapped a hellgrammite on you, your back pain would probably seem to disappear.

Ob/Gyns seem to like a photo of what appears to be a grimacing woman grasping a dazed-looking, rather hirsute baby. I think I may have seen the same duo in an ad for a low-budget family photographer. This is a versatile logo.

Optometrists lean toward very scary-looking eyeballs or sometimes pictures of what appear to be CIA agents who are searching for you through those giant sunglasses they always wear in the ad. We tend to run little chintzy ads, so the logo is sometimes so small that no one can actually see it that well. Perhaps that is on purpose to show the prospective patient that he should call us just because he cannot see our logo.

The worst logo in the world is a picture of your own face or face-and-torso combo. Come on, doctor. Do you want a patient to come to you because of your face? Dont you think that may be just a little weird? Personally, I do not want a patient who picks me because of my face. Thats why I wear a mask of William Shatner in the office, except on Halloween, when I appear as a hellgrammite or as a smiling 22-year-old woman.

Whats your logo? Are you a member of the Startling Blue Pizza Venetian Blind Association? Do you have a close-up of a scary looking eyeball? Hey, my logo is, simply, very simple: a chair and stand; a phoropter; a slit lamp; a stuffed bear; a kid in glasses; a kid in contacts; a perfectly proportioned, smiling 22-year-old woman; a ray gun; an ophthalmoscope; a Scottish terrier; a cartoon of me; some glasses; and an odd guy hiding behind the slit lamp. I am not joking. See the St. Albans, W.Va., area yellow pages if you dont believe me. I say keep it simple, doctor. And dont show your torso.

Vol. No: 142:12Issue: 12/15/2005